LEGO Star Wars: Droid Escape Pod

LEGO continues their push to recreate classic scenes in brick form with their spring releases. Much like the brilliant Carbon-Freezing Chamber, the Droid Escape Pod #75136 provides a nice selection of minifigures (for a small set) at a reasonable ticket price. I’ll break down my thoughts into a few key points.




There are two separate Jawas included with the set. This was a major draw for me since I (shockingly) didn’t have any of the little guys in my sprawling Minifigure collection. The only differentiator between the two is that they have unique weapons. I believe one is intended to replicate the stun device used against R2D2 in A New Hope.




This is the third C3PO to join my collection. It’s not all that different from previous appearances, however, subtle changes in his leg printing were made. I love how much LEGO has advanced their standard level of detail as the years and decades have passed. Here’s a picture of the three I have in my collection – it’s like night and day when comparing the earlier versions to this one and the red armed version from Force Awakens.



The middle one is what comes with the Escape Pod


Confession time…. This is my first “normal” R2D2. I know… I’m a disgrace. I already had the snowman version from the advent calendar but had never grabbed a set that had good ol’ R2. It’s good to have him join my brick horde! Even though I have no tangible basis for comparison, I hear there are enhanced details in the print coloring.






Overall, it’s a pretty simple set. The piece count is low (more on that in the next section) so it won’t take long to get everything together. There are a few interesting techniques in regards to flipping the build around to expand from another direction. The way it is structured for the pod shape with a playable opening is clever.



Its biggest flaw is the reliance on decals… I HATE DECALS. For those of us with meaty paws, placing a detail is like defusing a bomb. Unbeknownst to me, I actually placed one decal without realizing the component needed to be flipped around. Once I flipped it, the little asshole sticker was oriented wrong. An obscenity-filled scratch session fixed the problem, however, that little wrinkled corner made when I peeled it off will always be there laughing at me…



Monkey funking decals


One of the major highlights is the tile piece printed with the Death Star plans. Tiny details like this bring magic to LEGO. From a play standpoint, the Death Star tile inserts into the panel on the pod then can be removed when the droids escape.



The sensor panel is a decal, unfortunately.




There’s a lot to like about this set. It has plenty of playable features with enough minifigures to recreate the scene. I’ve heard many complain that the price point is too high for a set with only 197 pieces. The thing about The Droid Escape Pod, is that the set is almost an afterthought for there being four distinct(ish) minifigures. Had they limited it to one Jawa I think it would need to be a $19.99 set. All things considered, $24.99 isn’t a bad ticket price for what you get.


My rating of the DROID ESCAPE POD (set number) is 7.5 out of 10.


7 out of 10Half a star.png


Top 10 Star Wars Soundtrack Pieces

With all of the ups and downs of the ever-expanding Star Wars universe, one factor that has consistently delivered is the music. John Williams’ undeniable wizardry has added its own level of magic to a pretty darn magical setting. The theme and several notable pieces are unmistakable even in the smallest doses. Many people view those few notable pieces as the only highlights while dismissing the rest as background filler. In reality, there’s no shortage of tracks that magnificently tell their stories with all the emotion that comes from its parentage.


I put some thought into it and came up with a list of my favorites. I’ll elaborate my decision with each choice. Every song title header is a hyperlink to a YouTube recording to make things easy if you’d like to check it out. Also, if you feel differently, or have your own favorite tracks, PLEASE leave them in the comments! There’s no such thing as too many options or opinions with the score of my favorite saga. Drumroll please…..


  1. Rey’s Theme


A major highlight from The Force Awakens, Rey’s Theme is the most hopeful track on this list. It perfectly emulates the sense of adventure that was hard to find after Episode IV. It’s also a wonderful match for Rey’s character; carrying on John William’s knack for composing music that is practically synonymous with the character it’s written for. The theme compliments its character on a level beyond what is seen.


  1. Anakin’s Betrayal


Easily among the most sorrowful pieces in the Star Wars soundtrack catalogue, Anakin’s Betrayal plays during the execution of Order 66. As the Jedi fall, Anakin’s allegiance to the light fades in desperation to the darkness. It’s a powerful track that underscores a turning point in the saga’s lore.


  1. The Throne Room/End Title


It’s difficult to hear this track without visualizing the fanfare on Yavin 4 after the destruction of the first Death Star. You can just see RD2D bleeping away through a formal ceremony and Chewbacca making a fashion statement. Some of the end title music on the other movies feels like a rehash of the same tune whereas the seamless transition from the Throne Room to the end credits makes this far more likely to be played in its entirety whenever it pops up on my playlist.


  1. Imperial March


What kind of top ten list would this be without mentioning the Imperial March? No elaboration needed there!


  1. The Destruction of Xizor’s Palace


Yes, I am aware this piece was not featured in any of the Star Wars films. Here’s the best part – it’s a soundtrack written for a book. Shockingly, this selection also made the cut even though it was not composed by John Williams. The entire soundtrack was composed by Joel McNeely and performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for the fantastic book SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE by Steve Perry. If you haven’t read the novel, and are even remotely a Star Wars fan (I assume you are since you’ve made it this far in my rambling list), definitely check it out. Even though it’s part of the Legends line which exists outside of the post-Disney canon, it’s a hell of a story. They made it a big crossover event with some Darkhorse comics, a Nintendo game, and various toys. I won’t elaborate on the story but I will say that The Destruction of Xizor’s Palace is a longer piece which is set during the climax of the book. It’s filled with ups and downs with some nice nods to the Imperial March. The entire SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE soundtrack is a hidden gem in the mastery of Star Wars themes.


  1. The Battle of Endor I


This long track plays alongside some of Return of the Jedi’s most important moments. The Battle of Endor is technically two tracks but the first is my favorite. Due to the way it is spread throughout the movie’s final act, the only way you can hear it in its entirety is to listen to the soundtrack. I do recommend any Star Wars fan check it out to relive the Rebellion’s last ditch effort (filmed, at least) to topple the Galactic Empire. There are certain moments that will delight you as you remember the exact moment in the movie it was set to.


  1. Battle of the Heroes


Obi-Wan’s clash with Anakin is essentially the culmination of the prequel trilogy. Battle of the Heroes stresses the significance of this moment without a lightsaber to be found. The combination of chorus and orchestra accompanying percussion highlights allows you to visualize the grandiose spectacle of a brotherly bond coming to a dramatic end while surrounded by Mustafar’s hellish landscape. Although similar to the track ‘Anakin vs. Obi-Wan’, I feel it is a better representation of what the scene sought to accomplish.


  1. Torn Apart


Ah crap! Not the feels again! Taking place in The Force Awakens during the scene that made me tear up in all three of my theatrical viewings AND my first Blu-ray viewing, Torn Apart tells a story of hope giving way to trepidation before collapsing entirely under the weight of darkness. Once it’s tone becomes tragically dire, it shifts into a more vengeful and fast paced finish. This track is perfect.


  1. Duel of the Fates


The track that promotionally reintroduced the world to Star Wars while throwing us into a slightly longer time ago in a galaxy far, far away. This song alone set a high bar that its film simply couldn’t reach. Putting the film aside, Duel of the Fates is utterly fantastic. The vocals are powerful even if you can’t tell what the hell they are saying. Duel of the Fates showed us what Phantom Menace could have been without shying away from embracing that all on its own.


  1. Anakin’s Dark Deeds


I rather enjoyed Revenge of the Sith. I’m captivated every time I see Anakin’s final decent into the Dark Side. The track has an ominously quiet opening that crescendos in an instant into dramatic choir lines underscored by a powerful orchestra. All throughout it’s like a tug of war between these dramatic crescendos and emotional segways of string and brass. A strong low brass component will always pull me in thanks to time playing the trombone long ago. ‘Anakin’s Dark Deeds’ is a perfect representation of one of the saga’s most pivotal character developments. When this pops up on my playlist, I usually end up repeating it once or twice because of its ability to move me.



So there you have it! Was your favorite on the list? If any of these are new to you I highly recommend you give them a shot.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review (with and without spoilers)

The time has finally come to see two of the most established characters in comic book, even literature, history to clash on the big screen. After years of hype and harsh fandom scrutiny, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been served for theatrical consumption. It’s well documented that I’m a DC loyalist so you know my family and I were in line for the first Thursday night showing holding tickets we’d bought three weeks before.


Due to the nature of this movie, it’s difficult to review at length without spoilers. I’ll kick things off with a very short, yet spoiler-free, review of the film. After that I’ll venture into SpoilerTown. If you explore beyond my spoiler warnings then it’s your own damn fault. Until those warnings come, you can read the initial review without having anything to worry about.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Spoiler Free Review



Not the official poster – but Mondo never fails to be amazing!


If you haven’t seen the movie yet I must implore you to not go into the theater expecting The Avengers. Remember – Marvel had six full feature films leading into their first crossover event. DC/Warner Bros has made it clear they have a very different vision for their cinematic universe. To assume they’re all the same because of a comic book origin is downright ignorant of an all-too-often overlooked/underestimated art form. The only expectation you should have is to enjoy a cinematic spectacle that frequently serves as a proper homage to a rich character history and its printed highlights.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is hardly the steaming pile of visual effects the critics are making it out to be. I’ve read thousands of pages containing the characters and left the theater feeling like they’d done right by these pillars of the comic medium. With that said…. the theatrical cut is two hours and thirty-three minutes long and feels like it. Oftentimes a movie of that length (or longer) flies by because you’re so engrossed in what’s happening, that the passage of time is relative. It was very difficult to get this involved thanks, in part, to the fact I was sitting next to my twitchy six year old daughter during the premiere. After a superbly executed first 15-20 minutes, the first half of the movie is largely setup. This was necessary to address Superman’s place in the world after Man of Steel while showing us a version of the Batman that is relatively unknown to the comic book uninitiated.


The last act quickly adjusts the pace all the way through to the finish. Action scenes are smaller in scope than those in Man of Steel without losing the gravity expected when a demigod clashes with the embodiment of justice. There are many instances where Snyder went overboard with the special effects to the point of distraction. However, enough separation exists in those moments to keep it from being a consistent bother. Casting is another highlight – I think Ben Affleck played the part of Batman AND Bruce Wayne perfectly. He should be applauded for pulling off such an unenviable feat. Henry Cavill played a great Superman before and continued to do so. Everything sets the stage for what is to come with Justice League and beyond.


So how was I feeling in the end? I very much enjoyed the film, however, I strongly feel there are multiple moments of fluff that could/should have been shaved to reduce the runtime. Several of the scenes, with terrific comic origins, enlivened the giddy fanboy in me. I’ll elaborate on those last two sentences in spoiler-ridden second portion below.


One thing’s for sure, I can’t wait to see what’s to come in the DC Cinematic Universe!


You’ve made it this far – shall we open the gates to SpoilerTown?




Alright…. Last warning!




Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Spoiler Filled Review


My spoiler-free review already summarized any general feelings I had towards the film. For this section I’ll just list bullet points for what I liked or didn’t like in a semi-logical order. I don’t have the attention span to touch on everything so here are some thoughts.


  • The Wayne Murder – this was easily the best depiction of Thomas and Martha’s murder outside of the comic book pages. There is nothing pleasant about Batman’s origin… why pretend it’s anything but traumatizing? Of all the times we’ve seen the event unfold in crime alley, I cannot recall it ever seeming so raw even it was shown through a dream sequence. Seeing the pearls scatter after a point blank execution was jarring. It was gritty and viscerally traumatizing scene that was absolutely necessary for Affleck’s Batman to exist. I also love the fact that Thomas Wayne tried to take the shooter down before getting hit; there were hints of the Flashpoint Batman there. How awesome would it be to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan play the trigger-happy alternate universe Batman?!
    • I could have done without the bats lifting wee-Bruce up like he was flying or something. It force fed us the thought of the transformative impact the death of his parents had for his future. Yes, I know it was a dream, but that little aspect made it kind of silly…


  • Zod’s Attack from the Streets – I liked Man of Steel so viewing the cataclysm of Superman’s fight with Zod from a different perspective was fantastic. Seeing the battle from Bruce’s viewpoint forced you into the xenophobic mindset that was required to appreciate the events in the first half as intended.
    • The only part of this scene I hated was how Bruce HAD TO CALL for his employees to evacuate. I mean, the dude answered the phone then looked out his window to see the destruction of the Kryptonian World Engine a few blocks away… why in the hell would you wait for the call? Wayne Enterprises must pay really, really well for that kind of job dedication.


  • Batman – I love this portrayal of Batman. He’s as brutal as the crime he fights and it’s great. The influence of Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS was prevalent in his look/feel. I can’t wait to see what else Affleck can do with the character in Suicide Squad and beyond.
    • The visual influence of Frank Miller’s work is obvious, but that’s where it stops. I wish they’d incorporated more of the classic moments from the story.


  • The “Knightmare” – It would have been nice if we hadn’t already seen a lot of this in the trailers. The visuals were cool along with the heavy-handed foreshadowing for Darkseid’s arrival. I really, really wish the first time we’d seen the omega symbol burned into the landscape was in the theater. Instead, thanks to an all-too-revealing advertising campaign, my reaction was less exuberant. Seeing the fiery columns in the background reminded me of the burning hellspores from Apokolips. What we little saw of the Parademons also looked pretty spot on. I’m sure we’ll get our fill in Justice League.
    • Batman + Guns = what the hell? Even for a dream sequence this is too far out of character.
    • My wife pointed this out – Remind you of anything?


  • Wonder Woman – Gal Gadot is fantastic as Diana Prince. I love that we get to see her both as the elegant Diana and the kickass Amazonian warrior. Everything from her visual style to the smirk she flashed in the heat of battle was very well done. I’ve read several interviews that criticize Zack Snyder for “not developing” her character or “underutilizing” her in the film… and those critics need to shut the hell up. Remember – she’s getting her own movie! There was no need to do anything other than tease her presence.


  • Lex Luthor – I get what Jesse Eisenberg was going for here. We’re all very familiar with the ‘Zuckerberg-type’ billionaires out there breaking the mold. It’s appropriate that the modern cinematic take is one that current generations believe is likely to exist in real life. Realism aside, I still found his portrayal on the annoying side. The unstable/crazy/daddy issues there are undeniable and significant to his behavior. I’m more curious to see how his character evolves if/when he’s included in future films.
    •  Did they ever say that no one had been able to access the crashed Kryptonian ship? When he used Zod’s fingertips to get in I was a little confused that no one had thought of doing that before then.
    • A little too much was left to the imagination in regards to Lex’s implied knowledge or contact with Darkseid.


  • Other Justice League Members – the movie’s cameo of the other heroes was a terribly kept secret leading up to the movie. As neat as it was to see them on the big screen, I really wish they’d left them out. Zack Snyder has never been a fan of leaving anything to the imagination; in this instance I believe it served as a detriment. BvS is one of those cases where hinting instead of outright showing could have been beneficial. When Batman is looking at the file with the logos for the heroes (nice job on those, Lex. I hope the heroes pay him royalties for the artwork), I think he should have clicked on Wonder Woman and left it at that. The mere existence was enough of a tease that certainly would have left me hungry for more. Not to mention the fact that shaving these scenes would have reduced the bloated runtime. In regards to Cyborg, how cool was it to see the Mother Box act up as it neared his mangled remains?
    • The part when “Future Flash” pops out of a disturbance to warn Bruce about Superman was wholly unnecessary. Not only that, but it looked so jarringly out of place that I thought it was Cyborg until going home and reading another review. They were clearly setting something up for the future at the expense of fluidity in the present story.


  • The Fight – the battle between Bats and Supes was fantastic. I’ve heard many complain about the special effects here but it didn’t bother me in the slightest. That moment when Batman realize Superman is a person with earthly connections was intense.
    • Again, the previews showed us too much of this conflict. Seeing the majority for the first time in the theater would have made it that much more thrilling.
    • They missed a major opportunity by skipping Batman’s “I’m the one who beat you” speech from DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. I bet they would have won a lot more fanboys over if they had worked it in while Batman had his foot on Superman’s chest.


  • Doomsday – one of the deadliest characters in DC history ended up being the weakest part of the entire movie. At first he looked ridiculously like the Hulk with downs. His evolution after each substantial injury help a bit but it was still way off. Couldn’t the movie had culminated in Lex turning Batman AND Wonder Woman against Superman without Doomsday? I think they could have done it.


  • The Death of Superman – I was not expecting them to loop this in and couldn’t have been happier to legitimately be surprised! In the book, DEATH OF SUPERMAN, the battle between Doomsday and Superman is spectacular. Each punch they throw hits with enough force to break surrounding windows. As cool as it would have been to see this battle truly brought to life (the animated film Superman: Doomsday didn’t quite get it right either), I think the way they adapted it for BvS was appropriate for both the stage that has been set and for what’s to come. The funerary sequence was particularly good and true to the source. Amidst the tragedy of his “death”, it was nice to see the public embrace him as the hero he truly is, rather than the feared legend they made him out to be in the first act.
    • It’s good they showed that split second of the soil rising from his casket. Not everyone is familiar with the cluster fuck of a comic book volume that is THE RETURN OF SUPERMAN. Seeing this served as a quick dose of hope to carry the audience through the long gap before resolution.


  • No after credits scene – why are so many people bitching about this? DC IS NOT MARVEL!


  • The Score – Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL nailed it. Both are insanely talented and perfectly assigned to score the separate characters. I’m strongly considering buying a copy!


So here we are! Thanks for making it through this erratic thought process as I continue to digest my viewing of the long awaited film. I pondered my rating of it for a while and think I’ve come up with a solid score… my rating of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is 7 out of 10.


7 out of 10


I don’t see myself going again while it’s in the theater but I will definitely buy the Blu Ray the day it’s released. What did you think?



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